These are the musings, ramblings, rantings and observations of Houston DWI Attorney Paul B. Kennedy on DWI defense, general criminal defense, philosophy and whatever else tickles his fancy.
Monday, February 2, 2009
A modest proposal
I had a conversation with a prosecutor a couple of weeks ago regarding the way first-time DWI's are handled in Texas. For those of you who don't know, the Harris County District Attorney's Office has a longstanding policy of not reducing DWI's. However, head south down the Gulf Freeway and Galveston County prosecutors are more than happy to reduce a DWI if you can give them a good reason.
For most citizens charged with driving while intoxicated, that case will be the only time they ever set foot in the criminal courthouse. The humiliation of being arrested, the inconvenience of having to go to court and the expense of hiring an attorney and paying fines is more than enough to dissuade most rational people from getting behind the wheel after drinking too much.
So why do we insist on tarring them for life with a criminal conviction? The prosecutor and I agreed that the law was ridiculous and needed to be changed. His solution was to allow a citizen charged with his first DWI to receive deferred adjudication for that offense but, should he pick up another DWI charge, the new case would be prosecuted as a second DWI.
I like the carrot-and-stick philosophy behind his idea because I think it takes into account the fact that we have all (most of us, at least) gotten behind the wheel of a car when we shouldn't have -- but that most of us didn't get caught.